Thursday, June 10, 2010

Men without hats: James Ellroy and Eddie Muller on "Crime Wave"

I rented this movie for the extras.

Eddie Muller and James Ellroy, who provide the commentary on the DVD release of Crime Wave, know and love their subjects (noir, movies, Los Angeles), enjoy one another's company, and plainly enjoyed watching the movie together. More to the point, they enhance the movie, not always the case with DVD commentary tracks.

Ellroy is a wild man, announcing himself as, among other things, "the White Knight of the Far Right." Over the movie's opening sequence, shot at a gas station, he says: "This is a righteous gas station."

Muller is the most engaging of commentators, bringing a fan's love and an expert's knowledge to the job. (He calls himself a writer and a cultural archaeologist. Among other credits, he's written non-fiction books about noir, and he founded the Film Noir Foundation.)

The two love the movie's look, Muller highlighting its extensive use of location shots, rare for the time (the movie was shot in thirteen days in 1952, and released in 1954) and Ellroy, that man who sometimes seems not to know the meaning of restraint, panted not just at Phyllis Kirk's beauty, but also at gorgeously composed shots and quiet camera work. (That's Ellroy's word, quiet.)

Watch this movie, and you'll learn which actresses of the time Muller and Ellroy would have dated. But you'll also get a nostalgic tour of 1950s L.A., and some astute comments about the choices directors make.

Curtis Hanson was right to have the male characters go hatless in his film of Ellroy's L.A. Confidential, Ellroy said. Real detectives would all have worn hats in the 1950s, but hats would have created too much distance from a 1990s audience.

And wait till you hear what Ellroy says about Chinatown.

© Peter Rozovsky 2010

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81 Comments:

Anonymous Elisabeth said...

I’ve seen the film but now, like you did, Peter, I’m going to watch it again for the extras. Just called our local indie DVD store to put it aside for me! I find it odd that Muller says that CW’s “extensive use of location shots [was] rare for the time” as many post-war films set in L.A. were filmed on location.

Mid-century producers such as MGM’s Dore Schary wanted to get that gritty, visceral, urban reality look on-screen. Perhaps more to the point, location shooting was becoming cheaper and more long-term cost-effective than shooting exteriors at the studios. This is part of the, sometimes unexpected, fun of watching period films set in one’s home town. Just the other night we watched bail bondsman George Raft and former-but-not-forgotten girlfriend Ella Raines in the B-movie “A Dangerous Profession,” 1949, that included a nifty chase scene down Franklin Avenue (a street well-known to writers like Raymond Chandler, Paul Cain, and Raoul Whitfield) and up into Beachwood Canyon. Other Hollywood exteriors were also used in the film.

“Act of Violence,” 1948, (Van Heflin and Robert Ryan) also viewed again recently, features many downtown L.A. landmarks like the Times Bldg. and Angel’s Flight, and Heflin and wife Janet Leigh live in a wonderful Craftsman house (interesting, because that architectural style was very much out of favor at the time). Lots of L.A./Hollywood exteriors in “Sunset Boulevard,” “Armored Car Robbery,” both 1950, and on and on.

That said, “L.A. Confidential” made brilliant use of real L.A. and Hollywood locations. Not always easy to do in a city that has little sense of its past and has demolished much of its architectural history.

Am interested to hear what Ellroy has to say about "Chinatown." Naturally hoping to hear that, like me, he thinks it's highly overrated.

June 10, 2010  
Blogger Vanda Symon said...

Can't say I've ever rented a DVD for the extras! But you've got me intrigued. Might have to now.

June 10, 2010  
Blogger The Celtic Kagemusha said...

Its been a year or more since I listened to that commentary so I can't recall what Ellroy said about 'Chinatown': even if he had disagreed with me I would have excused him because he was so entertaining

June 10, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Elisabeth has ...

I find it odd that Muller says that CW’s “extensive use of location shots [was] rare for the time” as many post-war films set in L.A. were filmed on location.


Man, I thought of you as I watched the movie and listened to the commentary. I may even have recognized a location from a Buster Keaton movie.

I may have put words in Eddie Muller's mouth, or at least overstated the case. He may have said that location shooting was relatively unusual, or that it may have been unsusual for so much of a movie to be shot on location. Don't knock him until you've heard the commentary yourself; I may be the one at fault. He did point out that momentum-stopping effect of a few process shots toward the end of the movie after all the gorgeous location shooting that had come before.

Mid-century producers such as MGM’s Dore Schary wanted to get that gritty, visceral, urban reality look on-screen. Perhaps more to the point, location shooting was becoming cheaper and more long-term cost-effective than shooting exteriors at the studios. This is part of the, sometimes unexpected, fun of watching period films set in one’s home town. Just the other night we watched bail bondsman George Raft and former-but-not-forgotten girlfriend Ella Raines in the B-movie “A Dangerous Profession,”

Ella Raines is one of the actresses that Ellroy or Muller would have dated, Muller I think. Muller says Warner offered Andre de Toth big bucks and a 35=day shooting schedule but that e Toth turned both down, said he could shoot the movie in 15 days, and came in under that. The commentary is full of acute observations on what location shooting added to the movie. My favorite was the observation about the rich, slightly echoey sound in police headquarters. And Ellroy and Muller are not above laughing at some of the movie's over-the-top touches, like Sterling Hayden's bad tie, or the occasional absurd haircuts.

Am interested to hear what Ellroy has to say about "Chinatown." Naturally hoping to hear that, like me, he thinks it's highly overrated.

He says "Crime Wave" is a better movie than "Chinatown," to which Muller says something like "You're insane." It's great fun.

I appreciated how good Muller's commentaries are when, after having heard his comments on a couple of the movies in the series, I assumed he did the commentary on all, and was then disappointed by William Friedkin's tedious insider tales on a third or fourth. Muller is an insider and a fan at the same time, with all the advantages of each.

June 10, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I don't know if this will post, since Blogger seems to be continuing its campaign to drive users to other hosts.

This will be my second attempt to acknowledge that the extravagantly monikered Celtic Kagemusha recommended this movie and its commentary to me. Thanks, TCK.

June 10, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Vanda, this one was worth it. It will entertain you and enhance your appreciation of the movie, and I can't think of anything else that a commentary ought to do.

June 10, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

The Celtic Kagemusha ...

Its been a year or more since I listened to that commentary so I can't recall what Ellroy said about 'Chinatown': even if he had disagreed with me I would have excused him because he was so entertaining


It's always great to listen to Ellroy because amid all the carrying on and the highjinks, he is a man of sensitivity and intelligence.

He and Muller did not get into a discussion of "Chinatown" beyond their entertaining disagreement, but anyone who will attend Bouchercon 2010 in San Francisco is invited to help me buttonhole Eddie Muller and press him for details.

June 11, 2010  
Blogger solea said...

I agree that Muller gives good commentary. I especially liked his commentary for "Angel Face", which is one of my favorites. He really dishes the dirt on Howard Hughes.
I also enjoyed his commentary for "Criss Cross", where he goes on and on about how in love he is with Yvonne De Carlo. I'm not so much a fan of Ellroy's work. I adore the movie LA Confidential (and I think it's better than the book).

June 11, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

solea has left a new comment ...":

I especially liked his commentary for "Angel Face" ... He really dishes the dirt on Howard Hughes.
I also enjoyed his commentary for "Criss Cross", where he goes on and on about how in love he is with Yvonne De Carlo. I'm not so much a fan of Ellroy's work. I adore the movie LA Confidential (and I think it's better than the book).


Muller also tells great Lawrence Tierney stories in his commentary on "Born to Kill." That's why his commentary is so much fun. He can dish dirt and give historical and technical details at the same time, and have equal fun doing both.

Here a bit of what Ellroy said about the movie version of "L.A. Confidential" when he read in Philadelphia last year.

June 11, 2010  
Blogger solea said...

The hat comment is funny because today every hipster in LA wears a fedora, pork pie, or newsboy cap.

June 11, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I think hipsters with hats ought to be smacked in the head.

June 11, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Ellroy made his comment over a shot of, I think, Sterling Hayden in a huge-brimmed hat. Even in my early childhood, men wore hats as everyday attire, and not as a hip accessory. It was a neat decision by Curtis Hanson to exclude them from the movie while still presenting a convincing illusion of 1950s Los Angeles.

June 11, 2010  
Blogger solea said...

Sterling Hayden is my favorite "hard boy" noir cop (although I do love him in The Killing too). Of course, in my fantasy Marlowe movie, he's present (perhaps at Lt. Christy French?)
In one of Muller's many noir books, I think he mentions that Hayden got tired of the Hollywood bs and finally sailed away. I'm glad he came back for The Godfather.

June 11, 2010  
Blogger The Celtic Kagemusha said...

This will be my second attempt to acknowledge that the extravagantly monikered Celtic Kagemusha recommended this movie and its commentary to me. Thanks, TCK.
Glad you enjoyed it, Peter.

I hear that Ellroy also provided a 'commentary' for the Don Siegel film, 'The Line-Up' on the Columbia Noir box-set, which I have on order from Amazon: this seems to have divided opinions of those who loved his 'Crime Wave' commentary but as soon as I receive it I'll be checking it out

June 11, 2010  
Blogger The Celtic Kagemusha said...

solea, it may be a case of being in the right place at the right time, but Sterling Hayden had key roles in three of the greatest crime films ever made: 'The Asphalt Jungle', 'The Godfather', and 'The Long Goodbye', and thats one helluva legacy

June 11, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

solea has left a new comment ..

Sterling Hayden is my favorite "hard boy" noir cop (although I do love him in The Killing too). Of course, in my fantasy Marlowe movie, he's present (perhaps at Lt. Christy French?)
In one of Muller's many noir books, I think he mentions that Hayden got tired of the Hollywood bs and finally sailed away. I'm glad he came back for The Godfather.


Sterling Hayden must have a kind of cult status; his fans, including Ellroy and Eddie Muller, love him that much.

His noir performances are like no one else's, that's for sure. He's not exactly affectless, like Alain Delon, but he never seems to lose control of his emotions, like a Method actor, either.

June 11, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I hear that Ellroy also provided a 'commentary' for the Don Siegel film, 'The Line-Up' on the Columbia Noir box-set, which I have on order from Amazon: this seems to have divided opinions of those who loved his 'Crime Wave' commentary

Do the inverted commas around commentary indicated that Ellroy strayed from the job of talking about the movie?

June 11, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

The Celtic Kagemusha has ...

solea, it may be a case of being in the right place at the right time, but Sterling Hayden had key roles in three of the greatest crime films ever made: 'The Asphalt Jungle', 'The Godfather', and 'The Long Goodbye', and thats one helluva legacy


But it's his noir performances that brought him to my attention, the pictures that are only being rediscovered these days. So those are the movies that constitute his legacy for me.

June 11, 2010  
Blogger The Celtic Kagemusha said...

Do the inverted commas around commentary indicated that Ellroy strayed from the job of talking about the movie?
A friend says it was too much Ellroy 'schtick', but I think that goes with the territory, so I expect I'll enjoy it even if its only 20% pertinent to the movie

June 11, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Ellroy may not be the performer for those with a low tolerance for schtick.

June 11, 2010  
Anonymous Elisabeth said...

solea, I know what you're talking about re hats on faux hipsters in L.A. Most of the ones I see are what we call "Rat Pack" hats -- the kind Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr wore in the 1950s and (yikes) even into the 1960s; tall peaks, little brims.

Personally, I wish hats on men and women would come back into style. And I love fedoras. If guys wore those with a nice suit it would be OK by me. But when a fedora is on top of a bowling shirt and slacks or jeans, then yuk!

June 11, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Yeah. fedoras or porkpie hats with jeans are just obnoxious. They bespeak too much attitude for my taste.

June 11, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

The hats that really drive me nuts are the one with tiny brims, like what Sylvester Stallone wore in at least one of the Rocky movies. Someone told me those were pork pies, but I always thought pork pie hats had very low crowns, like straw hats.

June 11, 2010  
Anonymous Elisabeth said...

A man's pork pie hat is what Buster Keaton wore.

June 11, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

That's what I thought a pork pie hat was, that and, of course, the sort of hat Lester Young wore. In fact, an article I found in pork pie hats is illustrated with a photo of Buster Keaton.

But people also apply the term to the obnoxious Rocky hats with higher crowns, the ones hipsters wear, or kids who want hipster cred.

June 11, 2010  
Blogger The Celtic Kagemusha said...

I picked up a fedora, and trenchcoat on Ebay, more for decorative, and homage, purposes as I rarely wear a coat, and I've never had a hat of any type that would fit me.
I actually think those pork-pie hats are cool, though.
And of course there's the Mingus connection!

June 11, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

And the Mingus connection is the Lester Young connection.

I once saw a saxophone-playing friend of mine wearing what looked like straw hat, and I asked, "Is that a pork pie hat?"

"I'm glad you got the connection," he said.

Fedoras are all right and so are pork pie hats, at least as I understand the term. But wear one of those Rocky things in my presence, and I'll insist that you doff it.

June 11, 2010  
Anonymous Elisabeth said...

I had to go online to see the "Rocky" hat. (I have never seen the film or any of its sequels.) It looks like a cross between an overturned flower pot and that thing that Chico Marx used to wear.

June 11, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

That's a nice description, but Chico Marx was cool. He gets license in the matter of hats.

June 11, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I posted that one too early. I was going to say that it's a shame about these hats.

A cafe where I often eat just hired a new counter guy. He's efficient and pleasant. I just can't stand his goddamned hat.

June 11, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Oh, and I have never seen any of the Rocky movies either.

June 11, 2010  
Blogger The Celtic Kagemusha said...

I once saw a saxophone-playing friend of mine wearing what looked like straw hat, and I asked, "Is that a pork pie hat?"

"I'm glad you got the connection," he said.

I don't think I've ever seen a photo of Coltrane wearing a hat, though, so if I ever got to master that tenor sax of mine, I'd have to forget about the pork pie hat as coolness accessory; and I've never sought out Lester Young records, specifically, and even prefer Billie Holiday on Verve to her earlier work with Lester accompanying her

June 11, 2010  
Anonymous Elisabeth said...

Chico Marx _was_ cool; coolest of the Marx Brothers. And he was wearing his hat deliberately, as part of his comedian "costume".

Do you mean to tell me that "Counter Guy" is wearing his hat inside?! Whilst serving customers?! Especially customers of the fairer sex?! What a boor.

"Hipsters with hats ought to be smacked in the head" until the hat falls off.

June 11, 2010  
Blogger The Celtic Kagemusha said...

I immediately recalled the hat Sly wore in the first 'Rocky' movie: I think it definitely looks better on Lester Young, though

June 11, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

The Celtic Kagemusha ...:

I don't think I've ever seen a photo of Coltrane wearing a hat, though


Maybe not in a hat, but here’s Trane in a cap.

The iconic image of Coltrane is from the cover of "A Love Supreme" -- gloriously hatless. He may be as much a patron saint of hatlessness as John F. Kennedy is said to have been.

June 11, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Elisabeth has ...

Do you mean to tell me that "Counter Guy" is wearing his hat inside?! Whilst serving customers?! Especially customers of the fairer sex?! What a boor.


Yep, even whilst serving java to dames. I keep thinking that I ought to make some snide remark to the owners about his hat.

"Hipsters with hats ought to be smacked in the head" until the hat falls off.

Yes. until the hat falls off. This is not torture porn or gratuitious violence. The violence is essential to the goal, which is to get rid of the hat.

June 11, 2010  
Blogger The Celtic Kagemusha said...

I suspect after people commented on that cap he went cap and hatless, ever after
Definitely better off without them

June 11, 2010  
Blogger The Celtic Kagemusha said...

Which begs the question: why did Randy Newman say "you can leave your hat on!" ?

June 11, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

The Celtic Kagemusha has ...:

I immediately recalled the hat Sly wore in the first 'Rocky' movie: I think it definitely looks better on Lester Young, though


And Lester Young couldd play the saxophone better than Sylvester Stallone can act. I should look for a photo of Lester "Prez" Young to verify my recollection, but I don't even recall his hats as similar to Stallone's.

June 11, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

The Celtic Kagemusha ...

I suspect after people commented on that cap he went cap and hatless, ever after
Definitely better off without them


He came up in a Golden Age of hats, so who knows? That "Love Supreme" photo is one of the coolest.

June 11, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

The Celtic Kagemusha has ...

Which begs the question: why did Randy Newman say "you can leave your hat on!" ?


Because he's subversively whimsical, of course.

June 11, 2010  
Blogger The Celtic Kagemusha said...

I think Sly turned up the rim of his hats; I think 'Prez' hats looked something like this one:
Hat like Prez wore

June 11, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Maybe it's just the turned-up brim that seems somehow arrogant.

June 11, 2010  
Blogger The Celtic Kagemusha said...

Maybe it's just the turned-up brim that seems somehow arrogant.
I think Robert De Niro may have done similar in 'Mean Streets'

June 11, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Yeah, but De Niro is De Niro, and Stallone is Stallone.

June 11, 2010  
Blogger The Celtic Kagemusha said...

both of Italian origin.
And I realise it might be unhip to say so but the original 'Rocky' is quite a fun movie: good old-fashioned entertainment

June 11, 2010  
Blogger The Celtic Kagemusha said...

Do you recognise this quote: "upstairs in the third house he found a middle-aged white wino..........The face looked familiar, but from a different setting. Had he been a BBC News producer locally, or a professor of something up the road? Such posts could bore people into lushery"

June 11, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

The Celtic Kagemusha has ...:

I realise it might be unhip to say so but the original 'Rocky' is quite a fun movie: good old-fashioned entertainment


It's always hip to say good things about Rocky where I live.

June 11, 2010  
Blogger The Celtic Kagemusha said...

...or this: "We've got someone inside the house with her......She tells me you've been most helpful and friendly'. He gazed at Harpur, perhaps trying to gauge how friendly."

June 11, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

The Celtic Kagemusha has ...

Do you recognise this quote: "upstairs in the third house he found a middle-aged white wino..........The face looked familiar, but from a different setting. Had he been a BBC News producer locally, or a professor of something up the road? Such posts could bore people into lushery"


I don't remember that passage, but your next comment provides a clue. "a BBC News producer locally" and "professor of something up the road" sound very Bill Jamesian.

June 11, 2010  
Blogger The Celtic Kagemusha said...

sound very Bill Jamesian.
Did he ever admit to being a fan of the ITV cop series, 'The Bill'?

June 11, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

The Celtic Kagemusha ...:

...he tells me you've been most helpful and friendly'. He gazed at Harpur, perhaps trying to gauge how friendly."


Yep, the James themes are starting to show themselves.

June 11, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

The Celtic Kagemusha has ...:

Did he ever admit to being a fan of the ITV cop series, 'The Bill'?


I don't know, but he did appear on a Crimefest panel for writers who have written both for the book and the screen.

June 11, 2010  
Blogger The Celtic Kagemusha said...

Yep, the James themes are starting to show themselves.
He didn't waste any time, - Page One, in fact,- in letting the reader know where his priorities lay with regards to a new recruit to his team, - he wanted to check out his missus!
I just checked out his Wiki entry: he's 81, this year!!

June 11, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

The Celtic Kagemusha has left a new comment ...:

Yep, the James themes are starting to show themselves.
He didn't waste any time, - Page One, in fact,- in letting the reader know where his priorities lay with regards to a new recruit to his team, - he wanted to check out his missus!


I've always thought of the first six or seven books in the series as standalones and then books eight or so through sixteen as the core of the series. So it's instructive to be reminded that themes such as sexual treachery and grasses were there from the beginning. Maybe I should fo back and read the series in order. (I've read all twenty-six books, seven or eight of them twice, but out of order until the last seven.)

I just checked out his Wiki entry: he's 81, this year!!

Ali Karim said he'd send along a photo he took of Bill James and me at Crimefest. I will post it if it arrives, and you will see someone who looks trim and alert. James, I mean, not me.

June 11, 2010  
Blogger The Celtic Kagemusha said...

What reminded me of 'The Bill' was Iles and Barton, especially
(reminded me of Derek (Iles) and Brownlow (Barton) from the early days of 'The Bill')
Not necessarily that they were identical characters, but of the nature of their respective relationships, from what I've read so far.
Interesting that he wrote a couple of books using a female pseudonym

June 11, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

The Celtic Kagemusha has ..":

What reminded me of 'The Bill' was Iles and Barton, especially
(reminded me of Derek (Iles) and Brownlow (Barton) from the early days of 'The Bill') ...

Interesting that he wrote a couple of books using a female pseudonym


That's a high recommendation for The Bill.

I don't know anything about Bill James' output as "Judith Jones."

June 11, 2010  
Blogger The Celtic Kagemusha said...

That's a high recommendation for The Bill.
I haven't watched it in years and I see its due to be axed.
I think I preferred it more as self-contained half-hour episodes.

Derek (Conway) was a somewhat cynical, somewhat embittered, second-in command to the more officious, politically-minded, yet decent, old school English Chief Superintendent Charles Brownlow.

Derek's secretively wry sense of humour probably acted as a 'release valve' from him becoming too embittered.
Brownlow seemed more at home attending various community and official functions; Derek was a more reluctant attender

'The Bill' Wiki entry

June 12, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Thanks. I wonder if The Bill is available on DVD in the U.S.

June 12, 2010  
Blogger The Celtic Kagemusha said...

Thanks. I wonder if The Bill is available on DVD in the U.S.
I presume its available on Region 2 DVDs, though I've never looked, as those shorter episodes are repeated regularly on Irish TV

I think, if you can get it, you should concentrate on the earlier seasons, with the shorter episodes as more recent series tended to be more action-oriented, and in a grittier, 'Hill Street Blues' style

June 12, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Thanks.

June 13, 2010  
Blogger The Celtic Kagemusha said...

Just an update regarding 'The Bill': I notice that those half-hour/25 minutes plus ads. episodes only started at the beginning of the Fourth Series
I've decided it would be handy to have a couple of them in my DVD collection
The Bill on Amazon.co.uk

And if you don't have, or plan to buy, a Region-Free DVD Player, VLC is a useful free Media Player that plays all-region DVDs

June 13, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Thanks. This DVD-by-regions thing, I've always wondered about its history or if anyone protested at the manipulation of technology and the market. My jaw dropped the first time I played an Australian DVD on my computer, and I got a message that I could switch regions on the computer -- but only four times. Even computer makers are in on this.

I wonder if the folks who proposed the regional restrictions wanted to divide the world into even more regions. Wouldn't it be a win-win situation for the economy if my next-door neighbor were in a different region and had to buy his own DVDs rather than borrowing mine?

June 13, 2010  
Blogger The Celtic Kagemusha said...

I get the same message on the 'DVD Express' software that I got with this computer, which loads automatically when I put a DVD in the drive.
But, after an initial, short, delay, when I first tried to play a Region 1 DVD using the VLC program, it now loads almost instantaneously, and plays smmothly.
Its also a great program for providing screen 'snapshots', which is what I was originally looking for,

I presume there are copyright issues regarding what can be sold in different countries, ergo the different region restrictions but I believe there are Internet sites which provide 'hack' codes for making specific DVD players all-region
(not that I'm recommending such a thing,of course, even with your blog's title)

June 13, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

The Celtic Kagemusha has ...":

I’ll look into VLC. Thanks.

I presume there are copyright issues regarding what can be sold in different countries ... I believe there are Internet sites which provide 'hack' codes for making specific DVD players all-region

I don’t know international copyright law, but I had not heard of copyright being divided my regions. I’ll prefer to suspect greed as the cause of the artificial division into regions until such time has my suspicion is dissipated by knowledge.

I'm wary of hack codes less out of respect for the law than for apprehension of putting unfamiliar software on my computer.

June 13, 2010  
Blogger The Celtic Kagemusha said...

Do you remember buying vinyl LPs with the inner sleeve warnings: "Home taping is killing music. And its illegal!".
That was down to greed, also, I always thought.

I'm also very wary of downloading 'free lunches'.

And keep an eye on 'those Germans' for the World Cup
(we should have known!)

June 13, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

The Celtic Kagemusha has ...

Do you remember buying vinyl LPs with the inner sleeve warnings: "Home taping is killing music. And its illegal!".
That was down to greed, also, I always thought.


I vaguely remember those warning, but at least one could make a plausible argument that home taping could constitute piracy. But the barriers that prevent one region's DVDs from being played in another regions strike as something else. I wonder that the history of the division into regions is, who proposed it, who supported it, who opposed it.

And keep an eye on 'those Germans' for the World Cup
(we should have known!)


I asked a soccer-fan friend who he thought could be this year's underdog darling team, who could be a legitimate dark horse, and who could be the first team outside South America or Europe to win a World Cup. Australia cam up in the last category, and I recall that they were a surprise team four years ago. Serbia, my friend said, could be an underdog darling team if only Serbs were regarded with so little affection in much of the world.

June 13, 2010  
Blogger The Celtic Kagemusha said...

I tipped Ghana to be Africa's best team at this World Cup and I think they can only get better after today's victory.
Serbia, and Yugoslavia, have a history of underachieving at tournament finals.
Australia's wretched performance today surpised me, but I guess Father Time waits for no man.

As for the regions division: it doesn't matter who proposed it, I've no doubt the idea was enthusiastically embraced by the others

June 13, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I'm just wondering whose interests it serves and whose it does not.

June 13, 2010  
Blogger The Celtic Kagemusha said...

The fact that there are codes that could be hacked in DVD players perhaps implies that manufacturers wanted their machines to appeal to consumers who wanted to be able to view DVDs from all regions.

June 13, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

But doesn't the necessity that they had to be hacked indicate that manufacturers wanted to prevent multi-region viewing? Are players routinely sold with all-region capability?

June 13, 2010  
Blogger The Celtic Kagemusha said...

But doesn't the necessity that they had to be hacked indicate that manufacturers wanted to prevent multi-region viewing? Are players routinely sold with all-region capability?
It could point to a certain Machiavellian duplicity on the part of the DVD player manufacturers:
wanting to be seen to be 'doing the right thing', but sprinkling enough clues for yer common or garden hacker to pick up on

June 13, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

The Celtic Kagemusha has ..":

It could point to a certain Machiavellian duplicity on the part of the DVD player manufacturers:
wanting to be seen to be 'doing the right thing', but sprinkling enough clues for yer common or garden hacker to pick up on


If that is, in fact, what they did, and depending what if any efforts they made to discourage hacking.

I also wonder whether, in addiction to the conflict between consumer manufacturer, whether, say, manufacturers of equipment and producers/issuers of movies on DVD.

June 13, 2010  
Blogger The Celtic Kagemusha said...

I always reckoned there must be some kind of secret alliance, whether implicit or explicit, between chip-makers, particularly Intel, and Microsoft: the way more powerful, and more demanding software demanded more powerful computers to operate them effectively.

On that basis I presume there must also be similar, secret, alliance between manufacturers of DVD players, and licencers/distributors of DVD merchandise

June 13, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

There just appears to be something especially indisious about having a technology that could work everywhere, then developing a new technology just to stop it from doing so.

June 14, 2010  
Anonymous Elisabeth said...

Watched the film both without and then with the commentary this past weekend. Listening to Muller and Ellroy was a lot like listening to me and my cinephile friends gabbing over a film we've all seen several times--so nobody has to holler: "Shaddup will ya! I can't hear the dialogue!"

Re the extensive use of location shots being rare for the time in my first comment... Just a bit of clarification; Muller seemed to mean, and he's absolutely right, that the extensive use of _interior_ location shots was rare for the time. And in known buildings, many of them still there. The lower floors of City Hall where the Homicide dept. was located, for ex., were immediately recognizable. Although the PD moved out, those rooms are still in use. It was fun guessing where the locations were/are. We shrieked when we saw storefronts/streets we recognized and shouted in unison with Ellroy: That's the Bob's Big Boy in Burbank! But we scoffed when Ellroy guessed that the gas station was somewhere (out in the Valley?)--we knew it was the Warehouse District!

Like Muller and Ellroy, watching films such as this one always make me wish I could go back in time to those locations. These movies function a bit like documentaries in a way.

One little-known “fact” was not mentioned by either Muller or Ellroy. When actor Gene Nelson (couldn’t get his performance in “Oklahoma!” out of my head) is introduced as “Steve Lacey” we knew right away that he would be our movie good guy. Why? Because almost every time a character was named “Steve” in movies of the 1930s-50s he was a good guy. This was drawn to my attention by the mother of a friend of mine who said she named her 3rd son “Stephen” not only after one of his uncles but because, as an avid moviegoer during this period, she had noticed that time and time again “Steve” was a good guy—even if the law didn’t think so at first—and would be exonerated by the end of the movie.

Very much looking forward to Muller’s commentary on the upcoming Fox Noir DVD release of “The Brasher Doubloon”—based on Raymond Chandler’s “The High Window.” Have never seen this film. Haven’t heard much praise of it but still want to see it.

Eddie Muller does indeed (as you said, Peter) “bring a fan's love and an expert's knowledge to the job.” But, honestly, if that other guy wasn’t named “James Ellroy” but plain “Joe Smith” would anybody think he was all that interesting, insightful, amusing, etc.? His panting, growling, and sometimes pointless provocateur’s comments began to wear on me pretty fast. But then even a smidgen of Ellroy goes a long way with me as I am not among his followers.

June 14, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Elisabeth has ...:

...Listening to Muller and Ellroy was a lot like listening to me and my cinephile friends gabbing over a film we've all seen several times--so nobody has to holler: "Shaddup will ya! I can't hear the dialogue!"


Yep, there was a real friendly, knowledgeable vibe to the commentary.

Re the extensive use of location shots being rare for the time in my first comment... Just a bit of clarification; Muller seemed to mean, and he's absolutely right, that the extensive use of _interior_ location shots was rare for the time.

That makes sense. I do remember the discussion of the sound quality De Toth was able to get by filming in the read police headquarters rather than on a soundstage.

One little-known “fact” was not mentioned by either Muller or Ellroy. When actor Gene Nelson (couldn’t get his performance in “Oklahoma!” out of my head) is introduced as “Steve Lacey” we knew right away that he would be our movie good guy. Why? Because almost every time a character was named “Steve” in movies of the 1930s-50s he was a good guy.

And then were Steve Canyon and Steve Roper in the comics.

Was the streak broken by a spate of evil Steves in the 1960s?

Eddie Muller does indeed (as you said, Peter) “bring a fan's love and an expert's knowledge to the job.” But, honestly, if that other guy wasn’t named “James Ellroy” but plain “Joe Smith” would anybody think he was all that interesting, insightful, amusing, etc.?

You could well be right. My favorite Ellroy bits were not the panting (which was funny only when he panted at a beautiful shot and not just a beautiful woman), but the times when he forced into silence out of admiration for a bit of camera or soundwork, or into recollections of L.A., at which time he could sound almost normal.

June 14, 2010  
Anonymous Elisabeth said...

"Was the streak broken by a spate of evil Steves in the 1960s?"

Good question! I don't know. My friend was born in 1959. And the movies that I like to watch were generally made between 1895-1958!

Re Ellroy's "recollections of L.A."... He's about 5 years older than I am but I, too, remember riding on the "Red Car"--from Seal Beach into Long Beach; must've been right before the streetcars' demise.

For several years during and after MLIS grad school I worked at an indie bookstore in L.A.--Chevalier's Bookstore on Larchmont; a few blks south of Paramount Studios. Not too far from where I live today and where Ellroy lived as a boy. One of this very old established bookstore's claims to fame is that Ellroy, in his memoir "My Dark Places," published while I worked there, claimed that he used to shoplift from it when he was young. Customers periodically brought this up; thought it was cool. Too bad, as there were (and are) two L.A. branch libraries within walking distance of JE's boyhood apt.

Love my v-word! = outgat

June 14, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Elisabeth has

... Too bad, as there were (and are) two L.A. branch libraries within walking distance of JE's boyhood apt.


You may recall that when I heard Ellroy read at the Free Library of Philadelphia, he praised libraries and spoke of their formative role in his life.

Love my v-word! = outgat

That's what the winner of a gunfight does. He outgats the other guy.

Or maybe outgatting is what an American gun manufacturer does when it moves production to Bangalore.

By the way, nou is the Catalan word for new, which means that nougat is ...

June 15, 2010  
Blogger The Celtic Kagemusha said...

Just received my 'Film Noir Classics, I' box-set, and I note that Eddie Muller shares the commentary duties with Ellroy for 'The Line Up', so I'll definitely be checking it out soon.

I can't remember if I ever saw the film, so I'll be watching it 'sans' commentary first, but I'll check out the commentary track soon after and I'll report back on the Ellroy 'pants and growls' count

June 15, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Just received my 'Film Noir Classics, I' box-set, and I note that Eddie Muller shares the commentary duties with Ellroy for 'The Line Up', so I'll definitely be checking it out soon.

The Ellroy pants and growls can be a diverting novelty, but Muller is the one who vindicates the practice of including commentary tracks. I don't remember if I've heard the commentary on "The Line Up," though.

June 15, 2010  

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